I met a wonderful group of women earlier this week when they showed up to take my Crystal Bracelet beading class, part of the fall events offered by the Springbank Ladies Time Out.

Each of the seven women chose a different colour from the kits I’d prepared, so every bracelet was unique. Although several had done some beading before two of them had never dipped their toes into the beading pool.

 

It was fun watching the bracelets come together. The women all knew each other so there was lively conversation as they worked on their projects.

The best part? Everyone finished their bracelets and left wearing beautiful handmade creations.

If you’d like to know more about other classes offered by Springbank LTO, check out their calendar.

 

 

 

Here are several of the necklaces I’ve made recently. Three of them include repurposed pieces from older jewelry. It’s always fun finding ways to incorporate unwanted or abandoned bits into new work.

 

Last Saturday about 10 artists convened at the recently renovated Water Valley Church Events Centre for the first “How Great Thou Art” show and sale. (Love the play on words.)

Once a Catholic Church, the building had been decommissioned in 2001 and was slowly falling into disrepair. A local couple bought it and began to lovingly restore it.

Kristine Sarsons, an artist and one of the owners, organized the art show. She also arranged for several local musicians to entertain during the event. There was a potluck lunch for the artists and the music makers — a welcome break during a busy day.

 

The art show coincided with the annual Water Valley Days — complete with a pancake breakfast, a parade, chili cookoff, a BBQ and lots of family activities.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, well, sometimes a good idea really ain’t.

Last year I found a small bag of brightly coloured beads in the back of my drawer. They’d been there so long I forgot where they’d come from. I thought they’d make a great bracelet. So that’s what I did. Added a handmade red clasp. Put it up for sale. Nada. Nope. No one expressed interest in it.

And I had to agree. I wasn’t that keen on it either. It wasn’t a bad piece, it just wasn’t a great piece. For one thing, the wire clasp wasn’t as strong as it could have been. To my eye (and maybe to others) it didn’t look substantial enough for the design.

A few weeks ago I was about to take it apart when I had an aha! moment — what if I turned it into a necklace?

I added some extra chain and a swivel lobster clasp. Much better. Put it up for sale at our local farmers’ market.

 

A woman came by, admired my work, looked at the necklace and said, “I bet that would look good against black.”

“Let’s see,” I said, placing it on one of my black displays. It looked great. I couldn’t believe the difference.

I thanked her for the idea. She wandered off to other booths. I made a note to photograph the piece on a black display when I got home. But I didn’t have time.

When I looked up a few moments later, the woman was back. “I want to buy that necklace.” She smiled. I smiled. The piece was paid for, wrapped up and the deal was done. Happy times. :-)

 

I bought some two-hole beads last winter, just because. Because they’ve been around for ages and I’ve never worked with them. That seemed a good enough reason.

I began with a complicated pattern. Not the best idea as I kept getting lost. So I reverted to a simple design and varied the colour of the accent beads.

 

Here’s the same design with red two-hole beads.

 

I look at these four pieces and see the same pattern. In chatting with visitors at the farmers’ market last weekend, however, most of them saw totally different pieces — they only saw the similarities when I pointed them out. Seeing is deceiving … :-)

One of the reasons I like making earrings is the oh-so-quick results. Well, “quick” compared to the hours and sometimes days it often takes me to design and finish a necklace.

I’ve been working on some bigger pieces lately, hit a bump in the process, so decided earrings would ease the frustration.

Photographing jewelry is an art. Great photographs can sell the work even though the buyer has never seen the real piece.

I’ve taken a lot of blah shots so taking better photos is one of my goals.

One aspect I’ve begun paying more attention to is the background. Too often I choose whatever is handy or what I’ve used in the past. But not all pieces work well with the same backdrop.

Here’s an example. The earrings in these photos are identical, only the background has changed. Which do you prefer?

 

On wood  (Sold)

On seashell  (Sold)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lefthand photo isn’t bad but it’s too cool and monochromatic for my taste. It looks posed. If the earrings don’t look natural in the photo, would someone still buy them?

In the righthand photo the wood adds warmth and colour. It also creates a casual feel, saying these are something you could wear to the farmers’ market, a rodeo or a get-together with pals.

Since we don’t always meet our buyers face to face, photos must do much of the selling for us. I’m aiming to take better pictures in the future. :-)

This Saturday I’ll be at the Arts Festival in Airdrie, AB from 11 to 5 pm. This annual event is a fundraiser for the Airdrie Food Bank, and a good cause in support of ending hunger.

Each artist appearing in the show has donated a piece of work for the silent auction. This is the necklace I’ve submitted.

Made of Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads

 

This three dimensional piece features blue zircon Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads, and closes with a vintage button clasp.

You’ll find more about the Arts festival here.

 

I found these beautiful glass beads in southern Arizona. Depending on how the light hits them, they display various shades of blue and green. I planned to combine all three pieces in the necklace but after trying several designs the large heart seemed to work best on its own. Mi Corazon Hearts

Copper HeartIt’s that time again! The Airdrie Food Bank is celebrating its 8th annual Empty Bowls Arts Festival.

This community-wide event began in 2007 and has grown in popularity each year. The week-long activities culminate on Saturday June 21 with the Arts Festival from 11 to 5, rain or shine. It all happens at Nose Creek Park.

You’ll be able to buy local art, meet the artists, watch demonstrations, listen to music and bid on an array of art in the silent auction. You’ll also be able to enjoy a free soup lunch. Bowls are available for a suggested donation of $20.

I’m one of the artists taking part in this fun, family-oriented event and will be donating one of my pieces to the silent auction to help raise funds for the Food Bank. Join us if you can. :-)

Well, I’m back in the saddle again. Okay, maybe not a real saddle, but I am kicking off the 2014 show season — beginning tomorrow with the annual Art Show at Water Valley, Alberta.

And true to form, there’s probably gonna be some snow — after all, it is spring in Alberta. But we’re indoors, there’s hearty hot soup and scrumptious homemade pies. Hope you can join us. :-)

Check for more information at the Chinook Creative Arts Foundation.

 

Water Valley Art Sale

Old jewelry often finds its way into thrift stores and yard sales. It’s like a small tarnished treasure, waiting to be rediscovered. I made each of these from left-behinds — pieces that no one was interested in anymore.

I love the hunt! You have to look beyond the missing pearl, the broken clasp, the twisted chain and ask yourself What if …?

I’ve found some beautiful necklace clasps that outshine (no pun intended) many of the versions available today. Even covered in grime the workmanship is evident. A little gentle Ivory dishwashing soap, some warm water and voila! Its beauty is suddenly apparent.

I lucked out at a recent yard sale — I picked up nearly 20 pieces of lovely work for next to nothing but my time. Gonna have fun working with these! ;-)

Thin-film physics, anyone? I never thought I’d write about that but — as it turns out — that’s apparently what gives dichroic glass its fascinating properties of light and colour.

Last winter I bought several pieces of dichroic glass from the husband of a beading friend. It was hard choosing only a few from so many beautiful ones. I planned to use them as cabochons in beaded necklaces.

But none of my ideas seemed to work. This week I finally realized they would look their best as stand-alone pieces, without the distraction of intricate beadwork.

Dichroic glass is beautiful and these handmade pieces are truly one of a kind. As you turn each piece light catches it at different angles and the colours seem to change as if by magic. It makes for an eye-catching piece of jewelry.

The most famous piece of ancient dichroic glass is the Lycurgus cup, a rare 4th century Roman cage cup. It changes from red to green depending on whether light is shining on it from the front (the cup appears green) or from behind (the cup appears red).

Today’s dichroic glass is made using a different technique. According to Trezora Glass:

Dichroic glass does not use paints, dyes, gels or any standard coloring agents to create color anymore than a prism does. The fantastic colors are created through the manipulation of light. The multi-colored effect is the result of complex light interactions called “thin film physics”. Thin-film physics are also responsible for rainbow patterns in a soap bubble, the swirling colors of an oil slick floating on a puddle and the dramatic reflections in dragonfly wings. 

Ain’t it grand when science and art collide. ;-)

Before

A trip to a thrift store is like a treasure hunt. I never know what I’m going to find. Which makes it even more fun.

I was out at the Coast last week and spent several happy hours browsing through leftovers, give-aways and no longer wanted items.

At one store I found these Alaska Black Diamond earrings. Like the Ugly Duckling they didn’t look very appealing. They were long and heavy and clunky.

Ah, but that’s the challenge — could I design something more appealing? Sometimes I buy old jewelry just for the components. This time I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the focal beads.

AfterI brought the earrings home and carefully took them apart. Then I washed and dried everything.

The beads were strung on wire in the original design — I chose a balled head pin instead. The bugle beads added clutter so I set them aside. I topped each “vase” with the original round bead.

The French ear wires added additional length to the original design, making it even more awkward. I opted for post-and-ball findings, to echo the round bead and smooth curves of the focals.

I’m pleased with how they turned out — it’s definitely a case where less is more. ;-)

Airdrie’s ARTember kicked off last Friday with the 3rd annual Art Show & Sale in the large showroom at Cam Clark Ford.

Nearly 30 artists had work for sale — painting, photography, wood turning, jewelry, bronze sculpture, wood carving and more. All the artists are members of ARTS (Airdrie Regional ARTS Society).

Here are a few who caught my eye.

Darryl Bernsten has been taking photographs for a long time but only recently begun to show his work professionally. His photo titled “Wheat” shows amazing detail.

Darryle Bernsten

John Smythe is a wood turner. His turned and decorated “Butterfly” vase won first place in the Woodturning Section of the 2013 Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. The judges also awarded it “Best of Show” for all woodworking entries.

John Smythe

Rick Berg has been painting for about 25 years and is best known for his wildlife and landscape work, like this piece titled “Mt. Assiniboine”.

Rick Berg

Ken Vicketts is a wood carver. This pair of gannets won Best of Show in the Wildlife category at the Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show.

Ken Vicketts

Diane M. Anderson has been working in bronze for about 35 years. This piece, titled “Quittin’ Time”, was bought by a collector at the show.

Diane M. Anderson

All in all, it was a great event. ;-)

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